Works that Shaped the World: The Gospel of Thomas

The Gospel of Thomas, Nag Hamadi Codex II (public domain)

In 2022, the HRC’s Works that Shaped the World public lecture series focuses on religion.

Since the first fragment was found in 1897, followed by the recovery of the complete text in the famous Nag Hamadi library in 1945, the Gospel of Thomas has been one of the most intriguing modern religious discoveries.

Likely compiled in the mid-first century, before the four canonical gospels of the New Testament, the Gospel of Thomas bridges the oral and the literary phases of the early Greco-Roman Christian movement. This public lecture will discuss the historical context of the text and the Thomasine community that compiled it in relation to the influence of oral culture and introduce the specific features of the text. Whereas some scholars have argued that the Gospel of Thomas is dependent on the canonical gospels, it is better understood as reflecting the wisdom traditions of the relatively peaceful early Christian period, one and a half generations after Jesus, before the Jewish War began in 66 CE.

This public lecture will explain why the Gospel of Thomas was such a significant discovery and how it has shaped our understanding of early Christianity.


Dr. David W. Kim is an Honorary Lecturer in the School of History, Australian National University, specialising in religious history, colonial transformation and marginal cultures. Kim is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, UK. His publications include The Words of Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas: the Genesis of a Wisdom Tradition (Routledge, 2021).

Date & time

Fri 26 Aug 2022, 5–6pm


Online webinar


Dr David W. Kim (School of History, ANU)


HAL Administration


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